We’ve covered how debt is portrayed on television previously. Mostly, we looked at some of our favourite characters and demonstrated how they realistically couldn’t afford their outgoings. However, we never considered how these shows could affect our perceptions of debt – potentially leading us to spend more when we know we don’t have the funds available.
This goes back to a study reported in a scientific publication. In it, the authors claimed people who watch television – and in turn were exposed to more adverts – were more likely to accumulate debt.
According to the article: “The study finds a positive link between mass media advertising and the tendency to take on household debt.
“The results indicate that television exposure is associated with a higher tendency to borrow to purchase consumer goods and a higher tendency to hold non-mortgage debt.”
The effects of advertising, and often leading to impulse purchasers, have been well documented. However, what’s more interesting is the aspect of ‘television exposure’. This suggests when we see portrayals of unrealistic lives on our screens, we may seek to emulate them.
This has been investigated when discussing the impact of television on relationships. For example, in one study conducted by Albion College in Michigan, researchers identified that people who watch higher rates of “romantically themed programming” are more likely than others to cheat on their partners.
It seems these shows suggested there were more alternative partners out there while presenting unrealistic standards for individuals to live up to.
Therefore, would portrayals of a person’s everyday life lead us to copy it? If a character with a similar lifestyle to you has a better depicted quality of life, it’s arguable you might subconsciously seek to make your real-life comparable with theirs.
Although the topic of debt isn’t covered much on television, when it does, it’s only usually for a brief episode. In it, a character sometimes manages to find a way out of their financial situation through luck or via a windfall.
However, in real-life, this doesn’t happen often – if at all. If you’re struggling to get back on top of your finances, get in touch and let us help you regain control.
It might not be as quick or easy as some of the solutions seen on TV, but it should get the job done!